1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Midsummer-Day: a Pastoral Poem.

Universal Magazine 56 (June 1775) 320.

Charles Graham


A pastoral ballad in nine double-quatrain stanzas, signed "C. G—, Penrith, June 20." This is a seasonal poem of the sort popular in periodicals, though an early example of the mode adapted to the pastoral ballad measure. Juno, attended by Flora, calls forth the daughters of Britain to celebrate the season of light: "For this is my festival day, | The zenith of all my mild reign; | Ye birds, swell your notes on the spray, | Rejoice ev'ry nymph with her swain." The pastoral component in this poem has dwindled to a small episode in the last stanza. Charles Graham was a regular contributor to the Universal Magazine.



The month of fair Venus is fled,
Maia has quitted the scene;
Bright Juno now visits the shade,
And smiles at the nymphs on the green.
Who now, in simplicity drest,
Walk careless abroad in the morn;
A flow'ret now graces each breast,
And health does their faces adorn.

Tho' plumage ne'er nods on their heads,
Yet these can enamour the heart;
For beauty resides in the shades,
Where Nature surpasses all Art:
The Goddess in rapture surveys,
Nor can her attention remove;
"Thy daughters, Britannia," she says,
"Shall hence be the daughters of Love."

Thus saying, she wav'd her fair hand,
Dame Flora attends at her call;
"Sweet odours diffuse o'er the land,
And all thy gay carpet unroll:
For this is my festival day,
The zenith of all my mild reign;
Ye birds, swell your notes on the spray,
Rejoice ev'ry nymph with her swain.

"But first cull a chaplet with speed,
An elegant garden compose;
Take a slip from each flow'r in the mead,
In the midst place my favourite rose:
And lastly (each sense to invite)
Let blossoms of hawthorn be seen,
Let the myrtle and woodbine unite,
And thyme deck the margin with green."

Now Phoebus's heart-chearing rays
The dews from the meadow exhale;
Now, fiercer and potent, the blaze
Earth's inmost recesses assail:
O let me retire to the shade,
Beneath the oak's umbrage recline;
Invite the coy Muse to my aid,
While Nature with Art I define.

Now flutter the insects abroad,
In all their bright pageantry gay;
Whose period no respite affords,
How transient and short is their day!
Yet these are endu'd with quick sense,
Like thee they share pleasure and pain;
Be humble, vain mortal, and hence
From barbarous actions refrain.

The cataract, heart from afar,
With vigour inspirits my lay;
Let me Nature's suffrages share,
I ask not a sprig from the bay.
Tho' simple and artless the strain,
Thy beauties, O Summer! I sing;
Shou'd Virtue make me of her train,
A yearly oblation I'll bring.

Sequester'd, and far in the vale,
Beneath the umbrageous retreat,
Palaemon rehearses his tale,
And sighs at his Phillis's feet:
Unpractis'd in treach'rous arts,
The virgin his passion approves;
The smile of consent she imparts,
And Hymen rewards their fond loves.

[p. 320]